Othello is tragedy written by William Shakespeare, that demonstrates the power and strength of reputation. The play describes how Othello and Desdemona attempt to build a life together, disregarding their difference in age and race. Although soon after their marriage, an envious Iago uses cunning lies to sabotages their once healthy relationship. Reputation plays a vital role in this play; it enables or restricts certain characters, inevitably opening the doors to the tragic ending.
Iago uses his reputation for honesty to gain the trust of certain characters, only to use it for dishonest purposes. Firstly Iago uses his honest reputation to manipulate Cassio, causing him to lose his position as Othello’s lieutenant. When Iago states, “ I know my price, I am worth no worse a place” (I, i, 11) shows how Iago is envious of Cassio’s position in the military. Giving Iago motive to try and get Cassio demoted. Secondly Othello is clouded by his unjustified trust towards Iago, allowing Iago to convince him things that he would not usually believe.
An example of Othello’s trust towards Iago is in (I,I 12). “This fellows of exceeding honesty. ” It shows how Iago has Othello’s complete trust, which allows Iago to deceive Othello without being caught. In addition, Iago again uses his reputation to successfully lie to Roderigo about his feelings towards Othello; leaving Roderigo to believe all of Iago’s actions are in his favour. An example of Iago gaining Roderigo’s trust is in act 1 scene 1 lines 43, which states, “I follow him to serve my turn upon him. Here Iago is explaining to Roderigo about their mutual hatred towards Othello, and how they can both benefit from it. Iago uses his honest reputation to manipulate and deceive others, causing unfortunate events that otherwise would not occur.
Similar to Iago, Othello’s reputation of being a strict military general also plays a big role in Desdemona’s death and the outcome of the play. An example would be when Iago informs Othello about how Desdemona is committing adultery. I,I 12) “I will chop her into messes! Cuckold me! ” This shows how Othello is shocked and appalled about this information. In Act 2 Scene 2 line “For not did I hate but in honour,” describes how Othello is unable to confront Desdemona about this newfound information. Since as a military general confronting a woman about a problem is morally and socially unacceptable. Leaving him no choice but to believe Iago’s lies.
Therefore, Othello’s inability to discuss with Desdemona about Iago’s claims indirectly depicted he outcome of the play and Desdemona’s life. Unlike Iago and Othello, Cassio has a reputation that varies throughout the play allowing other characters to use it to their advantage. When Cassio gets drunk, his reputation for being a good honest lieutenant is lost. Since (I,I 12) “Ill make the an example,” shows Othello’s newfound lack of trust towards Cassio, therefore allowing Iago to easily convince Othello that Desdemona is committing adultery with Cassio.
Again when Othello overhears Cassio and Iago discussing Cassio and Bianca’s relationship, he impulsively assumes they are talking about Desdemona due to Othello’s already negative image of Cassio. Cassio’s tarnished reputation allows certain characters to manipulate the thoughts and beliefs of others, resulting in a large shift in the relationships between characters, changing the outcome of the play. The reputation of characters depicts and fuels the story, inevitably leading to the gruesome ending.
Without Iago’s honest reputation, he would have never been able to convince Othello that Desdemona was committing adultery. In addition Cassio’s diminished reputation fuelled Iago’s lie about Desdemona, making it easier for Othello to believe Iago. Finally, Othello’s high rank in the military restricted him from confronting Desdemona about the possibility of an affair, which prevents the truth from emerging. All the characters in “Othello” have a certain reputation, although it his how they choose to use them that decides the outcome of the story.
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